This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Authority Over Habit

I ordered tofu pad see ew and took it home. In the bag was one Chinese-style take out container, one container of Thai chili sauce, two chopsticks, and a napkin. I was beside myself with pleasure.

When I was young, and spent half of my free time eating in front of the television, I became lustful over the independent lives lived on-screen. An attractive young woman might eat Chinese food straight from the container, while sitting on her overstuffed couch. This seemed like a paragon of adulthood freedom to me. I once convinced my mom to let me eat our Chinese take-out directly from the container.

I was excited to have a moment's leisure, by myself, with my sweet fried noodles and some South Park reruns on-line. About half way through the container of food I was no longer hungry. I put the container down. A moment later I picked it back up. There was a voice, though quiet, in me directing me to put the food away for lunch the next day. There was another, perhaps several, voice(s) that were sort-of cruelly spurring me to keep eating.

I finished all the food even after stopping once more, three-quarters of the way through, knowing I was getting too full. Afterward I sat on my floor cushions and felt bad. I was beating myself up. I was telling myself old stories, very familiar, rut-worn stories, about how fat I am, how little self control I have.

Self control is a trigger word.

I figured this out for the first time last night.

It took self control to continue eating. I ate past being hungry. I ate past being full. I ate past comfort. I was in pain from all the food I ate, which had turned from a delicious treat of take-out Thai, to evil, temptuous, untrustworthy, too sweet, badness. Any nourishment to be found in the noodles, broccoli, tofu, and chilis was negated by the poison-arrow thoughts I was now shooting into body, from my brain.

It took self control to eat too much. Negative self-control, I thought. This form of subverted and subtle, even malicious, behavior had been sighted. I had been wondering why I "do this to myself" when I was feeling so bad, there on the floor, so full. I tempted myself into thinking I had "done this for the last time" just so I "could examine" my behavior in this area "once more," but I'll probably do it again - in part because I am a hedonist and in part because I love food and in part because old habits really, really do die hard. My best hope, right now, is that when I do eat way too much again I don't make myself feel emotionally worse for having done so.

I remember my childhood behavior very clearly. I remember being disappointed when the only granola bars in the house were honey granola (instead of my preferred chocolate chip, "chocolate" covered ones) and how I'd slather them in peanut butter or microwave them and eat at least two at at time. Or how I'd eat an entire packet of instant mashed potatoes with an entire can of corn in the two hours I had alone after school, before eating dinner.

I used to eat until I cried and then wish I were bulimic or anorexic. I don't know what feelings drove me to that behavior then. I can guess it was empty boredom and complete lack of direction. However, I do guess that I can heal those scars, knowing what I know now.


Lyn said...

I have a startlingly similar background with food and self control. It made my tummyparts ache with recognition to read this. Thank you for making it clear.

Danny said...

I like this.